Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: February 2022

Chop the wood, carry the water (again)

There is a quiet zen to the place where I’m at right now.

There’s no mystery to the path. Eat 1200-1500 calories. Complete the training. Do the recovery. That’s all there is. Chop the wood, carry the water.

I am not averse to hard work. However, I have to know it the difficult thing I’m doing matters. I’m perfectly fine beating my head against a brick wall over and over as long as I have confidence that eventually, my head will win and break through. Throwing myself against an immovable object over and over with a likely outcome that I will end up a bloody pulp is not what I’m all about.

It’s a good thing I’m following a path for which I have a map and plan, and already seeing results. Let’s start here today:

Check out this beautiful chart. It continues to go in the right direction. Please ignore the actual weight because it’s obviously still in “more out of shape than I’ve been in a decade” territory, but not quite as offensively so as it was last month. If I am attempting to walk the same path as I did four years ago, I have some previous data points to measure against – and one of them was being 186 lbs on March 20th that year. It’s February 20th, and I’m 189 lbs. A month ago, this all felt so out of reach, such a hill to climb, so unattainable. Now, if I keep at it, I’m looking to be on course, or even ahead of my progress in 2018.

And by the end of that year, I looked like this (not to mention I set my Half Ironman PR in feels like 100-degree Cozumel, placed 1st in my age group twice, and went to Nationals, but excuse me while I have a non-athlete moment here). It is so difficult to remember that in just one year, I dramatically changed how I felt about myself. And it’s so convenient that I’ve done it before, just four years ago, so I can follow the path again without quite so much self-discovery if necessary. It’s tempting to beat myself up a little bit for needing to do all this work again a scant four years later, but we all just lived through this damn pandemic. Did I react a lot less logically and maturely than I had hoped? Yup. Do I have a time machine? Nope. So, all I can do is move forward.

And so I have. I’ve been at this now since January 10th in a mildly halfarsed manner and then with maximum effort for the last three weeks and progress – she’s happening. If the pretty little chart above isn’t enough proof, let me tell you a story. As a reminder of the before-times, in February of 2018, I had to get dressed and leave the house pretty much every day, so I had a constant metric about my appearance. In February of 2022, I have only had to wear real clothes about twice this month, so my checkpoints are a lot fewer and further between. Yesterday was one of them. I threw on my <3 bike leggings and a t-shirt and headed out for family time. Lo and behold – when I looked at myself in the bathroom during potty breaks, I thought, “hello, lover, dang, you look strong and sturdy right now”. I cannot tell you how much of a relief that is after a year and a half of being frustrated and throwing shade at the mirror.

Not quite back here yet but I see a path

Yeah, ok, maybe nothing tastes as good as skinny fit feels right now. I hate everyone and everything for saying it, most of all myself, but while heckin’ trite, it’s kinda true at the present moment. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up pizza and beer PERMANENTLY or anything, but maybe for the next few months we’ll go with Quest Pizza and straight whiskey instead. Looking at the potential of what’s before me, I can sacrifice being an arsehole with food for a bit to get there. I guesssssss.

In the last seven days, I’ve eaten 1413 calories/average per day. I think this is pretty close to the bottom of what I can do without driving myself insane, so I’m glad that the little chart is going the right way.

Looking at the other side of the equation (output), it’s also going well but not without its challenges.

This week, I didn’t follow my plan as well as I did the week before, but with a 45-minute ride today not pictured (because it hasn’t happened yet), the approximate boxes will be checked. I say approximate, because my #%^&ing heel has been hurting all week after Monday’s run, so I subbed in biking for that time. I tested it out yesterday after my bike and cut the run at 1 mile because it was just uncomfortable.

The positives:

  • Yay swimming! It shall make it’s return 1-2 times a week from now on since we’ve figured out how to make it work for us
  • Keeping up with strength. I’m now at 2×17 and failing on the third set at 15 on my pushups, which is so much closer to knocking out 3×20 than in November when I couldn’t even do one. And. of course, other stuff too, but the pushup is my “north star” of my strength progress.
  • Holding ~130W/15+ MPH on the trainer for however long I bike is now pretty standard rather than the sad 11 MPH I was doing two months ago. Do I need to do some real speedwork/FTP test soon? Yes. Am I enjoying and also improving on my current “do a 30-45 sec spinup every 5 minutes” plan? Also yes. I said I’d do an FTP test in February and I have 8 more days to put that off, thankyouverymuch.

The negatives:

  • Running and my heel. And my reaction to it this week was to ignore it and hope it would go away, rather than aggressively rehab. That ends today. I will ice, stretch, roll, and do band exercises daily until this goes away and stays away.
MFW the heel does not cooperate (but the bike ride was actually great) and yes this is the only angle I take selfies from nowadays I guess

So, next week’s plan will look a little bit different. I’m going to tentatively put one run on it, on Saturday, hoping that my rehab efforts will work, but with permission to cut and (not) run if needed and turn it to more bike miles or an extra swim.

  • Monday: outdoor ride (hopefully a few hours) and a 1000yd+ swim (yay 3-day weekend), shoulders
  • Tuesday: 45 min lunch ride
  • Wednesday: circuits AM, 1000+yd swim PM
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: 45 min bike AM, push lunch
  • Saturday: 2h15 bike OR convert 15-45 mins of this to a run BUT ONLY IF I HAVE NO HEEL PAIN
  • Sunday: off

Two swims, four rides, three weights, one optional run. Somewhere between 7-8 hours. But also this:

  • Monday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Tuesday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Wednesday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Thursday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Friday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Saturday: hopefully be able to run but then ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Sunday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises

…and so on.

Chop Wood. Carry water. This is the way.

A little bit of sunshine

If I haven’t been clear, I really do hate this time of year…

The difference a day makes… second photo is Friday (75 and sunny), the rest are from Saturday (45 and hailing)

…except when this time of year gives us random afternoons that are in the 70s and sunny when I can actually get out and ride my bike!

I’m typically booked to the hilt with afternoon meetings, but on Fridays, the schedule is a little more relaxed. I complained last week about how I’ve been missing my end of the week bike ride? Well, if the sun keeps shining like this, it’s much more likely I will reverse that trend. With approximately 29 days left before the time change, I’m going to aim to get outside to ride at least once a week until then. We were both geeked up to ride outside again yesterday for our brick… until we saw the weather. It was advertised as 54 and cloudy and windy (not perfect but posssssible) and 45 and hailing is what was delivered (just no). I *guess* I would if I had to, but this kind of weather is what the trainer + Bloodbowl games are for. Absolutely lovely weather for the run portion of the workout though, I was happily bopping around trying to catch hail on my tongue.

This week, I was able to successfully hit 100% of my workouts, even with today completely off. Hooray! As suspected, it just takes doing. Now, it’s time to ramp the difficulty just a bit and start ONE swim per week. After discussing logistics with the Joel, we decided our best bet would be the pool down the street from the house (indoors), but at an abnormal time (during the workday, and we’d adjust our schedule). So, we have a date to swim at 3:30 on Monday. We shall see how that goes!

Return of the fish face this week plz?

So, this looks like:

  • Monday: Circuits AM, Run 5k lunch, Swim 3:30pm (wow, a triple!)
  • Tuesday: Bike 45 min AM trainer
  • Wednesday: Run 2-3 miles AM, leg workout lunch
  • Thursday: off/walk if it’s nice
  • Friday: Circuits AM, ride bikes outside again (45 min-1h) pretty please?
  • Saturday: 1h15 ride, 4 mile run
  • Sunday: off/walk if it’s nice

Wednesday will be a challenge, I have a 9am meeting so I need to get running pretty dang early, but I can walk in the door and show up sweaty to it (thanks Teams for not relaying smells over calls). I also only have a 30-minute window for lunch, but easy enough to do my leg workout during that time, whilst I nuke my food, and spend 5 mins off camera stuffing my face at my next meeting. In the before times, I was heckin’ busy as well and got it done. I need to get back to that mentality of just making training work around my schedule even if it’s not optimal conditions.

I’m feeling buoyed by this week’s sporty success, but a little hesitant to say I’ve solved all my stupid mental blocks about training yet. If I can get a few more weeks under my belt like this, I’ll be more confident.

In other encouraging news, February’s trend line looks like dis:

The line is actually going somewhere, y’all! *happy dance*

My goal was to cut my calories to around 1350/day average from 1500. In practice, before, I was just shy of 1600/day per week. Last week, with an effort to eat less, I cut that to 1468/day. So, it looks like that, plus a slight increase in activity, was enough to start the trend line going in the right direction.

Let’s not concentrate on the fact that some *&$holes stop drinking sugared soda and go for a walk and start losing 2 lbs/week, and here I am lifting three times a week, doing about 5 hours of fairly intense cardio, and eating like a freaking bird to achieve any sort of results. Let’s instead focus that I’ve found something that is working and I’m pretty willing to do whatever is necessary for a little while to get rid of that lumpy too-stuffed sausage feeling I’m rocking right now.

Yeah, it means that snacks don’t really exist in my world right now. Yeah, it means some nights I need to choose between having dinner and having a few drinks + a snack. Yeah, it means I need to be VERY careful to check my mood and make sure I’m not HANGRY at people. However, it’s going to be worth it when I’m back near my fighting weight and feel confident and happy in my own skin again. Blah blah blah, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. I abhor all the stupid diet rhetoric that attempts to placate angry calorie-starved people as they dig into yet another plate of plain chicken and broccoli. But, like I said, it’s working, so I’ll play along for a bit until I can get back to riding bikes for a few hours and stopping for pizza and beer on the way home.

These days will return at some point…

I slept well and my resting HR average is back down to 49, though my stress levels don’t seem to be going down. On the flip side, I didn’t prioritize was recovery, and it shows because my heel is a little cranky today and things feel tight all over. So, next week’s goals are:

  • 100% of my workouts, no excuses
  • Aim for 1200 calories/day every day that I can, 1500 max on other days and try for my average to be closer to 1350
  • Pick two recovery things per day: stretch, roll, ice, boots, massage (and they can’t be the same two every day)

Hopefully the sun continues to shine (both literally and figuratively) on my efforts and cheers to another great week!

I know how this goes…

I know how this goes, but it doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to be in it…

Not always frustrating, sometimes smiley miles in the sun and cat buttholes

This time of year sucks to try and lose weight. I have all the excuses. It’s too cold or allergerific to get outside and walk. I’m braving it for short runs but not interested in going on close-to-freezing-in-the-dark walks after work so my steps/calorie burn is super low besides my actual training. I’m keeping up with about 80% of my planned training (3x weights, 2x run 2x bike 1x brick) but on non-run days, only I’m averaging a few thousand steps max since all I do is walk back and forth from my office to the kitchen (for tea) to the bathroom (because tea) a few times a day. I know how this goes and I probably need to try and reduce my calories a little further until my garmin stops giving me daily step goals in the 3-4k range.

Maybe avoid these types of things for a few months 😛

I’m actually doing rather okay at sticking to 1500 calories average – 1586 for the last seven days – but my weight is still stuck. My average weight on Jan 19 was 194.0, and still today it is 194.0. On the bright side, I haven’t gained, but it’s super frustrating that I haven’t lost anything yet. Like I said, I know how this goes. For some reason, it usually takes me about 3-6 weeks of trying to lose weight before my body actually decides to get with the effing program. And instead of having enthusiasm at a new goal and being buoyed by some initial progress, I just feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall. I just have to remember that eventually I’ll break through and the alternative is backsliding (like the last two years) so keep at it I shall.

So, let’s move beyond whining and solve problems.

Problem #1 – I am eating too many calories at my current rate of calorie burn.

So, I need to burn more or eat less. At this point of the year with the cold weather, shorter days, and current work schedule, I’m going to choose to eat less on average. I’m going to try for 1350 calories average. This equates to about 3 days at 1200 calories and 4 days at 1500 calories with some room for error. It’s tough, but doable. I just need to limit my splurges to what I really want, and let’s face it, that splurge is going to be whiskey so I need to watch my food intake.

This will always be the last splurge to go

I haven’t eaten this low cal in a while, but let’s look at a sample day that I could feasibly see doing now (without a lot of meal prep) cutting as many calories as possible but getting good nutrition in:

  • Breakfast: Protein smoothie (quest protein powder, strawberries, coconut milk) ~200 calories
  • Lunch: Brothy soup and big garden salad (leaving off the fun stuff like cheese and croutons) ~350 calories
  • Snack: Quest chips ~130 calories
  • Dinner: snap kitchen or frozen meal (up to 500 calories)
  • Chocolate square: 40 calories

This keeps me from going crazy low on protein and also doesn’t go low carb but keeps me right around 1200. Lately, I’ve been tolerant of increasing my calories a little here and there because things are yummy (like croutons on a salad) and I need to be shaving them everywhere I can. Maybe it’s okay if my food intake is mostly boring for a while to achieve a goal. It’s not every day and it’s not forever. A couple days a week I can splurge a little, and I’ll be INCREDIBLY motivated to get out and move more when the world allows so I can be a little less restrictive.

The best snack of them all

I’m also frustrated with running. Wait, let me clarify so the universe and karma doesn’t do me a bad – I’m super happy I’m able to run again regularly and pain free. This is everything. However, I am so slooooooow. My stride is garbage, I feel like a bag of rocks thumping around my neighborhood. I made the right choice sticking to 2-3 miles a few times a week until I don’t feel like I’m running like Phoebe and I just need to keep at it, but since this is my post-o-whining, I’ll mention it here. I miss fast runs where I felt awesome and powerful. I want them back. I have much work to get there. Not much problem solving to do here besides keep weight training to get stronger, keep losing weight to get lighter, and keep doing my 2-3 miles three times a week.

What this means is I need to keep a schedule, and right now I’m hitting 80% of my meager 5h training plan instead of 100%. I find I am better at the beginning of the week, I fall off in the middle, and the weekend is sometimes a toss-up – here I am today with ~1h30 min of biking and 30 mins of running left, and not sure how much of that I’m up for on a day I was supposed to have completely off. During the week, I tend to hit my morning sessions well, lunch is hit or miss, and trying to do anything after work is laughable right now.

I need to hit 100% of my workouts regularly (especially because I still need to add a sport back). So, let’s problem solve:

Problem #2 – I’m skipping sessions when I have a fully reasonable training plan

So why did I skip my training this week? I did fine Monday through Wednesday. On Wednesday, I had a few beverages, so I slept in Thursday (and didn’t bike in the morning). Which is fine, I had a window at lunch… which I ended up working through to prep for an afternoon full of meetings. After work we were so tired, we just noped out of everything and watched TV in bed. Then, Friday, I did my weights in the morning and then was absolutely ROLLING at work being productive (Friday is the one day I don’t have back-to-back meetings for 6+ hours) and told myself I’d hit it as soon as my short afternoon meeting block (1-3:30) was done. Well, my “short” meeting block ended up more like 1-4:30, and went through some very frustrating stuff through the afternoon and still had work to get done. All of a sudden it was 8pm and yeah, no way. And all that meant we slacked off yet again. I managed to get one bike done yesterday, and looking to ride again today, but not sure I have the oomph to make it a brick.

Talking through this, I need to understand that mornings are my friend. I probably need to move the cardio there. It’s much easier to snake 20 minutes somewhere else in the day to get a few circuits done instead of trying to will myself to get on the bike or run for 30-45 mins during a very busy day. I seem to have luck with lunch workouts Mon-Wed though, so I can probably count on those. Then, what does a schedule with this in mind look like:

Gonna be easier when I can go play outside more (and the gym) but muddling through
  • Monday: 2-3 mile run AM, weights lunch
  • Tuesday: 30-45 min bike AM
  • Wednesday: 2-3 mile run AM, weights lunch
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: 30-45 min bike AM, weights lunch (or before dinner)
  • Saturday: 1h bike/30 min run brick
  • Sunday: off

I seem to have success with Monday and Wednesday workouts at lunch, so may stick with my previous schedule (the run and weights switched) until the weather isn’t in the 30s before work. 😛

The worst day for me to complete workouts lately has been Fridays. Since I actually have a morning off meetings to work, I hate cutting into it with two workouts. I can certainly get the circuits done (and usually do) but I often end up skipping my lunch workouts. The obvious change it to move it to Thursday, but my body appreciates having a day off mid-week to rest. I may just make it a loose goal to get it done earlier in the week and if I don’t, it’s just non-negotiable for Friday, I have to make it work (by doing it in the morning and squeezing weights in at another time).

The next problem is how I’m going to put swimming on this schedule too in the next few weeks, but I’ll work to solve these two first. 🙂

Yeah, need to return here soon.

Let me conclude by saying it’s not all crap. My cycling is going well and I’m able to hold a few mph more on the trainer more than I was a month ago. Three months ago I couldn’t do one pushup from my toes, and Friday, I did two sets of 15. I’m not perfect but I am prioritizing recovery, doing at least two things from the recovery arsenal each day (boots, stretch, roll, massage, ice). I could be sleeping better, but my average sleep time and score (thanks garmin for gamifying sleep!) is much better than it was late 2021. I remember to do hobby things at least a few times a week and optimizing my time fairly decently most days. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows right now. It’s okay, I know how this goes and I just need to keep being patient and persistent.

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